(TNS) -- Colorado already shared how it plans to slice up the $68.7 million it’s getting in the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement. On Monday, the public had its say.
“My ask is that you devote a majority of this magical funding to electrifying our vehicles, as many as possible, (and) to provide charging so that as a society, we can adopt electric transportation and make this normal and not something that just tree huggers do,” said Rachelle Dillon, a native Denverite, who recalled the era when people burned garbage in backyard incinerators and threw trash out the car window. “…And my hope is that exhaust coming out of the tailpipe will be just as rude as me tossing a bag of trash out the car window.”
The funding, part of the $2.9 billion Volkswagen set aside for violating the federal Clean Air Act, stems from several fines levied against the German automaker after it was discovered cheating emissions tests so its cars would test much cleaner than they actually drove. The company also set aside $10 billion to buy back cars from VW owners to get the emission-violating vehicles off the road.
But Colorado’s share can’t be used for just anything, said Chris Colclasure, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the agency handling the funds.
“The purpose of the trust is to reduce emissions, nitrogen oxide emissions, from areas that were disproportionately impacted,” said Colclasure, showing a map of black splotches in the Denver area to indicate where most vehicles operated. “Because Volkswagen cheated on their emissions test, we have some additional ozone that we would not otherwise have.”
The funds can be used to replace older vehicles with new, alternative fuel ones. The state’s plan, which has been public for three weeks, aims for spending on these areas:
Public comment on Monday was mostly in favor of the state’s proposal, with several officials from alternative fuels industries like natural gas, biofuels and propane making a claim for attention. Public comment continues through Oct. 13, after which the state plans to make its claim by early 2018. The state hopes to receive the funding in 2018. For details on commenting, see the notice at dpo.st/vwfunds.
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